Al-Qaeda Rising in Libya?

James Carafano /

The Arab Spring may be becoming a long hot summer.

In the President’s major speech on the Middle East yesterday, it seemed pretty clear that he has moved on from Libya and turned his attention back to the Arab–Israeli peace process. Attention deficit disorder, however, may not be the right answer.

There is a disturbing news report that two men arrested in Tunisia were “suspected of being members of al-Qaeda.” They were picked up near the Libyan border “carrying an explosives belt and several bombs, a security source told Reuters.… The men were carrying Afghan identity papers and were of Libyan and Algerian origin, the source said, adding that they were also connected to two men arrested in Tunisia last week.… The North African country, which is an important destination for Libyan migrants fleeing the conflict, has tightened security along its border with Libya.” If these men turn out to be part of concerted effort to inject al-Qaeda into the Libyan civil war, then that is a sign that things are going to get a lot worse before there is any hope that they get better.

As reported previously in the San Francisco Examiner’s Beltway Confidential:

Having set up a pipeline to bring fighters out of Libya, al Qaeda affiliates may well attempt to reverse the flow and bring fighters into the country. It would take time, of course. And such a maneuver may not become apparent for weeks or even months after it begins.

It’s increasingly apparent that the war in Libya will likely drag on for some time, so a new wave of terrorism in North Africa has to be an increasing concern. Though the Libyan Interim Transitional National Council has pledged to keep its ranks “terrorist free,” that proclamation may not mean much if the group lacks the capacity to govern and provide security for the areas under its control.